Sen. Rand Paul Backs Snowden, Creates CItizen's Petition to Rein-in Government Spying
January 6, 2014
Politico & The Lexington Herald-Leader - http://www.politico.com/blogs/politico-live/2014/01/rand-backs-snowden-bashes-clapper-180571.html
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday went to bat for NSA leaker Edward Snowden and took a swing at Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, suggesting that Clapper -- who lied to Congress -- should be imprisoned. Meanwhile, Paul's online petition calling for a halt to civil rights abuses by the government's spying apparatus, has garnered more than 250,000 signatures.
Rand Paul Backs Snowden, Bashes Clapper
Katie Glueck / Politico.com
WASHINGTON (January 5, 2014) -- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday went to bat for NSA leaker Edward Snowden -- and took a swing at Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, while Sen. Chuck Schumer advocated a tougher line on Snowden.
"I don't think Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty or life in prison; I think that's inappropriate, I think that's why he fled, is that's what he faced," Paul, a possible 2016 contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said on ABC's This Week. "Do I think it's OK to leak secrets and give up national security [information] that endangers lives? I don't think that's OK, either. But I think the courts are now saying he revealed something the government was doing that was illegal."
Paul, who's pushing a class-action suit against the National Security Agency over its data collection tactics, has said that Snowden and Clapper should "share a prison cell," charging that Clapper lied to Congress.
"Maybe if they served in a prison cell together, we'd be further enlightened as a country over what we should and shouldn't do," Paul said.
History will show, Paul said, that Snowden "revealed great abuses of our government, of our intelligence community." Clapper wants to prevent terrorism, but he has also damaged the credibility of the intelligence agencies, Paul said.
The interview came several days after The New York Times editorial page called for "some form of clemency" or a plea bargain for Snowden. Schumer, the powerful New York Democrat, said later on the show that he wouldn't support clemency. Snowden has painted himself as part of the "grand tradition of civil disobedience," Schumer said, which includes standing trial.
"It is a grand tradition," he said. "Part of that tradition is, you pay the consequences. If you break the law because your conscience says you have to, you stand trial."
Schumer said the Snowden case raised a slew of questions about national security and privacy, along with questions about the efficacy of metadata collection, and he said that all of those would be answered in a trial.
"I disagree with Rand Paul that we ought to plea bargain with [Snowden] before he comes back," Schumer said. He added, "Running away, being helped by Russia and China, is not in the tradition of a true civil-disobedience practitioner."
More than 250,000 and Counting
Join Rand Paul in Class-action Lawsuit
Against NSA Data Collection
Sam Youngman / The Lexington Herald-Leader
ACTION ALERT: A link to Sen. Rand Paul's legal challenge to halt unfettered government surveillance is available, here.
NOTE: The details and parameters of the proposed lawsuit are not spelled out on this link, nor could EAW find any specifics on Sen. Paul's website. After asking visitors to blindly endorse an invisible statement, the only further information Paul's website offers is a link to a donations page. [EAW editor.]
LEXINGTON, Kentucky (January 4, 2014) -- By Saturday afternoon, more than 250,000 people had signed on to the class-action lawsuit US Sen. Rand Paul plans to file against the Obama administration over the National Security Agency's (NSA) collection of data through domestic surveillance programs.
Paul, R-Bowling Green, had been contemplating the effort for several months and announced it Friday night when appearing on Hannity on Fox News.
The senator said he hopes to take the suit against President Barack Obama and the NSA "all the way to the Supreme Court" on the issue of "whether or not constitutionally you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people."
Paul, who saw his national profile skyrocket early last year when he filibustered the nomination of CIA director John Brennan over domestic drone use, said he thinks "everybody in American who has a cell phone would be eligible for this class-action suit."
Paul has not yet filed suit, but he said he plans to do so this month when the complaint is ready.
"We want to overwhelm the government," Paul said. "And we want to show publicly that hundreds of thousands of people … object to the government looking at our records without our permission."
Kentucky's junior senator, who is openly considering a 2016 presidential run, has enlisted failed gubernatorial candidate and outgoing Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to be a legal adviser in the suit.
Paul's announcement came the same day a federal appeals court ruled that the Obama administration may continue to keep secret a Justice Department memo that establishes the legal basis for the government to collect calling records from telephone companies without a subpoena or court order, according to The New York Times.
Paul encouraged the show's viewers to join his suit through his Facebook page or the website of RAND PAC, his political action committee.
The senator said he wants to sign up anyone who wants "to say to the government and to the NSA, 'No, you can't have our records without our permission or without a warrant specific to an individual.'"
"We want them to protect the Fourth Amendment. We want them to protect the right to privacy," Paul said. "We want them to understand that we're not willing to trade our liberty for security. That we think we can have security, that we can defend against terrorism but that doesn't mean every single American has to give up their privacy."
Paul was dismissive of Obama's pledge to review and reform NSA spying habits, saying he was concerned the president would "whitewash" the results.
"This has to be decided publicly by the Supreme Court," Paul said. "The president doesn't get to create the law, write the law and decide and adjudicate it."
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